This week my father died at home surrounded by his family.
This is my eulogy & tribute that was read at his funeral.
My father Robert, was known for many things.
A husband to Noeleen, a father to me, a brother to Karen, a father in Law to Deirdre and a brother in law to Mark.
He was known as a friend to many, an engineer, a colleague, a fisherman, and a good Samaritan.
The one thing everyone who met him shares, is that they know that Bob was a gentleman.
A gentle man in the true sense of the meaning.
Bob would say himself, that the definition of a gentleman is someone who can play the banjo, but doesn’t. That’s his sense of humour.
I would say that Bob himself defined a gentleman as someone who seeks to embellish the world with kindness.
To make each and everyone’s way better.
To care for everyone’s needs, and do so with grace and modesty.
Bob’s deeds had a simple idealist aim, to make the world a better place for everyone.
Bob was a notoriously good man.
Indeed, he was a modest man, with a lot to be modest about.
Things are to be done properly with care and attention. Life should be over engineered, to ensure its durability against its hardships at times.
Good deeds should last.
In October last year, when as family we heard Bob’s illness was so serious he called a family meeting. He held a firm opinion that if minutes are not taken, it is in fact not a meeting, just a conversation and so Deidre was charged with taking notes.
After we covered all the requisites of will and testament, his wish to remain at home, he moved onto his wishes for this very service today.
Bob wished that I convey his life according to the 5 values of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. He found Maslow as the most compatible philosophy to his own.
And indeed it makes the perfect model to cover all elements of Life According to Bob.
Starting at the bottom of the pyramid, the basic physiological needs, Bob always had good health, and enjoyed a good meal with good company. Through his life he lived in England, Cork and Belfast, an Englishman abroad, and enjoyed his home and gardens in Ulster and Munster.
Next Safety and Security – areas in which Bob was most professionally and personally committed.
This is related to work, property, family and social responsibility.
Many may know Bob as an Engineer, and he always enjoyed his work at Belfast City Hospital. Fixing problems was a worthy challenge, and all problems could probably be fixed after a quick breakfast meeting with his peers.
He was very proud of the City hospital, and also how well he himself was treated during his stay there.
All the way through his working career, he enjoyed going to work. He enjoyed the challenge. And most of all he very much enjoyed being retired too.
Next is love and belonging. Family, friendship and sense of connection were paramount to Bob.
Noeleen and Robert knew each other for 50 years, not only loved each other deeply, but were friends and companions through everyday life. His care and compassion and practical concern for all of us, was evident in all his ways.
As for friends, many, many are here today, Bob was blessed with good company. If there was something that he most enjoyed, it was fishing.
Whether it was deep sea fishing for cod in Ulster or Scandinavia, or heading to sea out of Baltimore harbour in West Cork, one remark was that when Bob got into a boat with all his gear and lead weights, the sea went up an inch. But in fairness, he wasn’t a bad angler, and it was a small pleasure for him to win a few competitions in his time.
He also very much enjoyed fly fishing for salmon and trout. Being a member of Finneabrogue fishing club, he met new great friends, and only this Tuesday was the lake filled with Bob’s brown trout that he paid for. So tight lines to all involved. May Bob’s trout weigh down your own boats for many years, and may many get away too.
No matter where Bob went, he built a great sense of connection with all he met, he enjoyed people and their company. And was very fortunate to travel much of the world with Noeleen, always curious, always adventurous. He truly had a pioneering spirit.
As for my own connection to Bob, if I have half of his wit, friends and values, I am indeed a wealthy man.
Self – Esteem is the second to last level, and regards confidence, achievements, respect for others and the need to be a unique individual.
I believe this is where Bob excelled, and he carried his Father’s Quaker background beliefs of Peace, Equality, Truth, Integrity, Simplicity and Sustainability to all.
He very much enjoyed his charitable work with The Friends of Belfast City Hospital and with Tools for Solidarity. He valued the aims of both organizations.
To provide people, communities and projects in sub-Saharan Africa with basic hand tools and machines so that they may practice their skills and improve the quality of their own and their community’s lives is a true reflection of his own beliefs.
And now to finish, the final peak of Maslow’s structure, self actualization.
Morality, creativity, acceptance and to experience purpose, meaning and inner potential. All with a lack of prejudice and acceptance of facts.
Indeed high brow stuff, but Bob was a high brow man and shot for the top.
It is with great pleasure and a sense of comfort, that in the last 8 months, and indeed up to last few days, I’m proud in the fact that Dad indeed did reach this summit. He was a man at peace.
His life was built on a solid foundation, and he achieved a true sense of higher purpose in his life, and also in his death.
All with his good sense of humour and duty.
He will be missed by all. He left the world a better place.
God bless Bob, a gentleman, may he be remembered by us with cheer and admiration.
And as a family, we would like to thank all his caring staff, from the city hospital, to his GP’s Dr. Stockman & Dr. Burke, and the most attentive care he received from angels that are the District Nurses and care assistants that were with us over the last 8 months. Thank you to all.